Reopening of Wellington Street ‘welcome news’ to tourism officials one year after ‘Freedom Convoy’

Ottawa’s city council has approved a motion to reopen the street in front of Parliament Hill to traffic a year after it was closed off following the “Freedom Convoy” protests, a big step in getting local tourism back on track.

Wellington Street, which was blocked by demonstrators during the weeks-long convoy protests last winter, will reopen no earlier than March 1.

The city’s transportation committee voted in favour of the same motion last month, and it was brought to the city council this morning for final approval.

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Councillors also voted to put in new infrastructure, including a temporary bike lane, and to explore closures of the street for summer events.

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe says it is time to reopen the street, and there is now an opportunity for the city to discuss a longer-term vision for its future.

“Ottawa Tourism agrees that the status quo on Wellington Street, which includes the unsightly barricades, is not acceptable or befitting of the visitor experience in front of one of our most-visited attractions, Parliament Hill,” Jantine Van Kregten, director of communications at Ottawa Tourism, told OBJ Wednesday.

“The decision to remove the barricades and add street improvements such as bike lanes is welcome news, and we look forward to working with both the City of Ottawa and federal partners to collectively develop a long-term plan that will appeal to both locals and visitors,” she said.

Tourism officials told OBJ last month that the lack of access to Parliament Hill directly impacted local tourism.

“We want the tourism voice to be heard,” Van Kregten said in January. “Wellington Street provides the best views and access to Parliament Hill and that is our icon in Ottawa. That is a big part of our messaging.”

Michelle Groulx, executive director of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA), said she is “excited to see that Wellington Street will be re-opening and with the added benefit of a bike path and programming during weekends … This street has historically been a critical artery for interprovincial commuters and commercial transport.”

Groulx also echoed Ottawa Tourism in stressing the importance of accessibility to Parliament Hill.

“Wellington Street doubles as a national gateway to Parliament. It warrants great consideration and collaboration between the city and federal government to establish a place equivalent to its national representation,” she said. “We look forward to seeing Wellington Street re-invented and with a transportation plan that mitigates the impacts of any future closure.”

Conversations are underway between the city and the federal government about who should have jurisdiction over the street.

– with files from the Canadian Press

Long-term closure of Wellington Street ‘not viable,’ tourism officials argue

Ottawa council eyes future of Wellington Street nearly a year after ‘Freedom Convoy’


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